Cheetahs are one of the smallest and most vulnerable of Africa’s predators.
Because of their vulnerability, cheetahs are usually very careful and skittish, constantly checking their surroundings.
Guests often enquire about this behaviour and we explain that cheetahs are very cautious in areas where there are lions, leopards and hyenas present – which Marataba has in abundance – as all three of these are stronger than they are and can overpower them easily.
Though we as guides know in theory about interactions of cheetahs with other predators, it’s not often that we actually get to see such behaviour first hand. However, the other day on safari, we were treated to an epic sighting. A cheetah was found by Field Guide Kim Le Hanie with a very freshly killed Impala.
I arrived about 5 minutes later and the cheetah was still sitting on the road, trying to catch her breath after what must have been an exhausting chase for her.
She lay right next to her kill for about 10 minutes. Just as she seemed to be getting back to a normal breathing rhythm, we spotted movement in the bush behind the cheetah. A spotted hyaena suddenly appeared on the road, grabbed the impala right in front of the cheetah, and ran off with it. Just like that!
Though the cheetah gave a little bit of a chase, the moment the hyena turned around to face her, she ran for her life, losing her dinner in the process. This reality was something that we as guides often explain to our guests, but seeing it go down right in front of our eyes was something very special and exciting.
Though our guests felt very sorry for the cheetah losing its hard-earned kill, it’s better to lose a kill than one’s life!
Take a look at these incredible pictures taken by guest Alexandre Murat to see how the story unfolded:
Photos courtesy of guest: Alexandre Murat
Words by: Helen Mertens